The Knight's Redemption
by Joanne Rock
(Harlequin Hist., $5.50, PG-13) 0-373-29320-8
****
Ariana Glamorgan lives in a cursed family.  According to legend, a Glamorgan woman stole another woman's love.  The brokenhearted woman cursed all the Glamorgan women to spinsterhood.  For over a hundred years, no girl born into the family has been able to find someone to marry her.  Ariana is determined to break the curse so that her nieces will not suffer as she and all of her female ancestors have. Her old nurse, a healer with the sight, has seen that Ariana will be the one to find someone to marry her and break the curse. 

Roarke Barret is a powerful knight is service to King Henry.  On her deathbed, his mother tells him that he is not the son of her husband.  After her husband left for the Crusades, one of his fellow knights, Fulke Kendall, visited and told Roarke's mother that her husband had died.  Soon afterward, Barret returned to discover that his wife was pregnant with Kendall's son.  He raised Roarke as his own, but when Roarke found out, he felt his bastard status deeply.  He spent ten years serving King Henry and has been rewarded with a Welsh estate.  To keep it, he has to marry a Welsh woman within a few days. He arrives at the Glamorgan estate with the request that the eligible women arrive for an evening meal so that he can select a bride, marry her the next morning, and return to his new estate.

Arianna disguises herself as her cousin Ceara so that her father and the rest of the people won't recognize her.  She plans to be the one to leave as a married woman the next day.  Since Roarke does not plan to love his bride, only have children with her and have her run his household, he is looking for someone who will obey his requests.  "Ceara" intrigues him more than he likes, and he selects her. They marry the next day and travel to his castle.

I thought at first that I was in for a separation tale with Arianna stuck in her new home and Roarke off being a knight and returning from time to time.  Instead, I found a delightful, adventurous road tale.  Arianna also has some of "the sight" and she sees someone killing Roarke on his journey.  When he dismisses her concern, she sneaks aboard his ship and follows him to France.  She does save his life and thus begins a journey that allows them to get to know each other and for her to help save him from the treachery of their medieval life. 

Joanne Rock weaves an exciting tale of both treachery and loyalty.  Despite some of the nasty characters and their evil actions, this story is not overly sober.  Arianna and her innate goodness and caring and Roarke and his strength and honor are positive enough so that the tone is not depressing.  Along with the action, the story moves quickly and is very satisfying. The combination works.

--B. Kathy Leitle


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